Review by Celtic Forest

""Would you like to bet your life?""

I have always enjoyed the Alex Kidd games. While they never proved any opposition for giants of the genre such as Mario and Sonic, I enjoyed their charm and their cuteness. While they had nothing highly original to provide us with, they were mostly well-made adventures with good graphics, catchy songs, acceptable control and a fair challenge. A few of them were a bit lower than the others though. While not bad, they didn't have all the strength they needed. "The Enchanted Castle" is such a chapter in the Alex Kidd story.

Alex Kidd In The Enchanted Castle gives us another classic platform game with simple levels and plain gameplay. We travel through several levels of different landscapes, such as towns, prairies, forests, mountains and lakes. All the elements necessary for platform games are there, such as cartoony opponents, humorous sideshows, lots of bonuses and tricky jumps. The graphics are colourful and do their job nicely. The music and controls are nice as well.

While The Enchanted Castle doesn't really fail in any category, it doesn't score high in any of them either. The levels are nice. Not so advanced, but not too plain to be boring. They have their funny moments, such as having several "janken huts" here and there where you can play a game of "janken" (paper, rock, scissors) with an opponent to try to win a bonus item. This thing was neat, and gives you sort of a "fast food feeling", you know, while going in your town, passing by a hot dog stand, thinking "should I spend two bucks on a hot dog or not?". In this game, you don't bet over two bucks in the fight. Instead, the host of the game show literally asks you "would you like to bet your life?". Such hilarious straight-forwardness is just marvelous! If you win those battles, you earn a bonus item which can aid you later in the game. The janken theme continues as you meet the bosses, because every boss fight is not made up of violent fights, but rather battles with janken themes. Once again you bet your life in the fight, and if you win, you proceed to the next stage.

The janken touch and the bonus items are very nice and gives the game a humorous, yet strategic feeling that spices up the platform jumping. However, Alex Kidd simply isn't enough to make us platform lovers going. The worst thing is that it is simply too easy. While most of the Mario games had huge worlds with tons of levels and a big but fair challenge, Alex Kidd is over in a wink of the eye. It actually took me only thirty minutes to finish this game, and that was on my first try. Without any special items. I couldn't believe it was true, but yes it was. You could actually just breeze through the whole game in half an hour if you were a good platform gamer! With the special items, it was even easier. This is not acceptable for a solid platform game. What about secrets? Alternative routes? Replay modes? We find nothing of that in The Enchanted Castle. The game is only interesting and challenging on two parts: the janken fights against some later bosses and the final level, which is a huge castle maze. This level actually gave me something to work with, and it was truly the most exciting part of the game.

It feels sad to mock Alex Kidd, because he does most things very well. There are no big flaws in the game, the world is beautiful and sweet with its pure colours and nice sounds, it has some nice original touches with the janken games and the bonus items, but it is simply too easy and too plain to last in the long run versus the bigger platform giants. With a higher challenge (or at least four more levels after the castle level), more contents such as alternative routes and secret worlds, and less powerful special items, I would have liked this game a lot more.

Alex Kidd In The Enchanted Castle is not a bad game. It is okay, and you will probably enjoy it, but it's nothing that stays in your mind for very long. It goes down and out like a standard meal at McDonald's.

Reviewer's Rating:   3.0 - Fair

Originally Posted: 10/18/06

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